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Villar asks government to review its plan to hike fees

by Freddie G .Lazaro

VIGAN CITY, Philippines (PIA) — Senator Manuel Villar had asked the national government to review its plan to raise fees considering that this is ill-timed in the face of continuous price increases.

In a press statement received here, Villar, who is the chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs, said aside from looking at the projected increase in government revenues, there is a need to assess the effects of the planned increase in fees on the ordinary citizen.

“Sabay-sabay kasing tumataas. Hindi ko ma-reconcile iyan sa ating problema na we are underspending. Hindi ko ma-reconcile iyong kailangang taasan ang fees, lahat halos nagi-schedule ng increase and then yung toll magkakaroon pa ng VAT. Tapos magtataas pa ang iba. Parang sabay-sabay yata ito,” Villar said during the committee hearing he called for the purpose of assessing the effects of the planned increases.

Villar said the toll fee hike, impending implementation of the increase in train fares and the proposal to hike government fees are additional burden to the people who are now hurdling the high costs of petroleum and basic commodities.

“Perhaps to an armchair economist or policy director, these options may be sound but for most of our people, these are matters which dictate hunger, ignorance, life and in some instances even death. The reported 20 to 200 percent increase in government fees cannot be trivialized as they may have serious long-term consequences,” Villar said.

Villar noted that the government is facing a budget deficit of around P300 billion or 3.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and that the slowdown in global trade constricted the economy to a lower growth rate of 4.9 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

In June of this year alone, government fees amounted to a total of P9.275 billion.

“Hindi ko nakikita ang pangangailangan para mag-increase sa toll fees at service fees sa ngayon. Maaaring sa mga darating na panahon. In fact, questionable pa rin ang pag-charge ng fees ng government agencies dahil sa hindi ba when you pay taxes, you expect to be given services in return? Hindi mo naman inaasahan na sisingilin ka ng fees, tataasan pa?’ Villar said.

These fees include those charged by the Land Transportation Office, the Land Registration Authority, National Statistics Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the National Bureau of Investigation.

“Special attention must be given to the effect of the proposed increase on the most vulnerable sectors of our society most specially that as early as February 2011, the recorded inflation rate already reaches 3.5 percent,” he added.